I try to celebrate and uplift women every day of the year as I’ve come to believe in the brilliance and strength of women throughout history– particularly women of color, LGBTQ+ women, immigrant women, and incarcerated women who have survived through immense pain. Although I grew up surrounded and inspired by a lot of men, I now look mainly to women as my sources of light and knowledge. As my understanding of what constitutes womanhood and how women have been violated and disregarded throughout history but continue to survive, has increased over time, I value our struggles and fight so much more. I’m inspired by the best girls in my life who support, love, and encourage me every other day of the year, so why not go the extra mile this Hinamatsuri or Girls Day?
My mom is the most selfless and loving woman I know. She puts her whole heart and mind into the children she educates and into her family, who she actively cherishes and defends no matter what (don’t worry mom, I won’t rehash your Disneyland fight here!). I’m so thankful that she’s my best friend from whom I can’t keep any secrets. My sister Megan is brilliant, determined, and hardworking (it’s super annoying and I tell her this every time we speak). While I struggled to stay afloat in the great white way of academia, Megan thrived. She also loves school (why?), running (why again?), and reading the same fiction novels over and over again, but she’s a legitimate genius so I guess she’s one of the best girls I can admire. Kaiʻolu is my oldest best friend whose friendship has stood the test of time for the past 14 years and counting. She’s the type of friend who will ignore my text messages, but shows up for me every time that I really need her. Her strength (arm muscles), dedication, and wisdom inspire me. I knew I wanted to be friends with Mikayla from the moment we met in 2013 (she decided that a returned friendship was necessary a few weeks later) when she still wore a side braid and I was four shades paler. We’ve been inseparable ever since. Whenever I need someone to spill my guts to without judgment, I know I can turn to Mik. She’s one of the bravest people I know who gives her heart and soul to the ones she loves, and that’s what I admire most about her (it also helps that we consistently say the same things at the same time). Stephanie was one of my first friends at Baylor and she’s the best girl I’ve got in all of Houston. Few friendships could outlast the trials we’ve faced together, and I’m so thankful for the grace she’s shown me when I needed it most. Stephanie is always there for me even if we haven’t spoken for weeks. Lo has saved my life more times than I can count, and she’s one of the main reasons why I graduated from school on time. I don’t know many people who are as caring and dedicated to their family, friends, and work as Lo is. I’m eternally grateful that she’s one of my best friends and that we’ll remain family forever, no matter the distance. Brandie, Traci, and Sisilia have been some of my closest friends since fifth grade (Traci and I became friends when I threw her slippers in the trash) and seventh grade (I bonded with Brandie and Lia over our shared hatred of our middle school band director!) whom I always look forward to seeing and catching up with whenever we’re all free (which is rare). The most special friendships are the ones that pick up exactly where they’re left off, and these best girls are the best of my favorites. When you can laugh at and sob with each other in every situation, you know that’s a winning friendship. Krista, Rachel, and Leah became my friends when we were in Japanese together our sophomore year, and they’re still my closest friends from school at Baylor. They’re the kind of friends who love and support each other in the best and worst moments and can laugh the entire time. My years at Baylor would have been incredibly sad and lonely without these women and I’m the luckiest to know and love them.
This Hinamatsuri, I also want to acknowledge the women leaders, activists, and artists that I’ve admired throughout the years, including Angela Davis, Haunani Kay Trask, Liliʻuokalani, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, Audre Lorde, Sarah Kay, Yuri Kochiyama, Grace Lee Boggs, Sister Helen Prejean, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Alice Walker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Ilhan Omar. May we all continue to lift up and empower the women and girls in our lives and around the world who make the world a better place.